Nov 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

University of Florida no longer barring professors from testifying in voting rights case

Picture of the auditorium at the University of Florida

Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The University of Florida on Friday announced it is reversing its decision to bar professors from providing testimony in a case to overturn the state's new voting law.

Driving the news: UF President Kent Fuchs said he has asked the university's Conflicts of Interest Office to let three professors serve as expert witnesses, as long as they do it "on their own time without using university resources."

What happened: The university received backlash from its own faculty, Florida politicians and academics across the country, prompting the reversal, the Miami Herald reports.

Catch up quick: Last week, the university said allowing professors Daniel Smith, Michael McDonald and Sharon Austin to be paid experts for plaintiffs disputing the voting law would be "adverse to the university’s interests as a state of Florida institution."

  • The voting law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis signed in May, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and requires voters to request absentee ballots, among other restrictive measures.

Details: Fuchs also said he will be creating a task force to focus on how the university should respond when "employees request approval to serve as expert witnesses in litigation in which their employer, the state of Florida, is a party."

  • The task force will deliver a preliminary recommendation by Nov. 29.
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